Facing rejection was Cherie Wisner’s biggest obstacle when she started selling Real Change, because she’s already had a lot of rejection in her life. After over two years selling the paper, “now I don’t have any trouble greeting people, saying good morning and giving them a big smile,” she said.
One big asset in this is her daughter Sierra, who sometimes comes along to help. “Customers adore her,” Cherie said. “She glows.”
Sierra is the youngest of Cherie’s three children. “I spoil her a little,” Cherie said, “because she’s the one I have left.” Mother and daughter often take walks together, go to the library, and hang out with family and friends.
Cherie’s oldest daughter was raised by her in-laws and is now in college; her son, who is eight, is being raised by her brother.
“That’s a good situation — I’m really a part of his life,” she said.
Cherie said she wants to be the best mom she can be. Her parents adopted her when she was four; before that she’d been in an abusive situation. She said her parents did their best for her, but as a teenager she rebelled against their strictness, started living on the streets and had “addiction issues” that lasted for years.
She got her ged when she was pregnant with her first child and has been clean for several years. Cherie reconciled with her parents, although she feels her dad doesn’t understand her. “He keeps saying, ‘when are you going to get a real job?’”
To Cherie, selling Real Change is a real job.
“You have to be out there. You have to be willing to take rejection and humble yourself,” she said.
Cherie’s hope is to become “a fully functioning member of society.” The process has included putting addiction aside, coping with reaching the 5-year limit for assistance from the Department of Social and Health Services (dshs), starting to work for Real Change and getting into Section 8 housing. Selling Real Change helps Cherie pay her utilities and buy toiletries and clothes for Sierra, who will enter first grade in the fall.
“She’s my little reminder when I space off,” Cherie said.
Sometimes when she’s selling with Sierra, people come up and tell Cherie she shouldn’t be out selling with her child. Twice, somebody called the police because it was cold and Sierra didn’t have her coat on.
“She was hot and took her coat off,” Cherie said. “The police came by to talk to me and said, ‘Well, we see that you’re fine and she’s fine.’”
When something like that happens, Cherie tries not to let it get to her. “Some people just have to react negatively,” she said.